As the football schedules begin to wind down at the end of October and the beginning of November, most of the district and conference championships are still undecided and could become clearer by Monday morning on the area high school, college and professional scenes.

Several important high school football games are on tap as the season goes into its ninth week, while the winner of Saturday’s Texas Longhorns-Texas Tech game has a real good chance at being crowned the national champion of collegiate football. Our Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans must do plenty of winning, but they both still have a chance to reach the NFL playoffs, too.

The West Orange-Stark Mustangs travel to Sour Lake to take on the Hardin-Jefferson Hawks with the winner emerging as the sole leader of District 21-3A. Both teams stand at 3-0 in loop play, with the Mustangs sporting an unblemished 6-0 record for the season and are 27-0 since dropping down to Class 3A five years ago.

The Mustangs and H-J have faced two common opponents in district warfare with the Hawks downing Bridge City 41-14 while the Mustangs won 66-7 Friday night. H-J beat Hamshire-Fannett 21-12 Friday night and the ‘Stangs thrashed the Longhorns 66-0 two weeks ago.

There’s a three-way logjam between Lumberton, Beaumont Central and Livingston at the top of District 20-4A. All three teams stand at 4-1, with Vidor and Nederland right behind at 3-2. Vidor hosts Nederland Friday night with the winner remaining alive for a possible playoff berth and the loser hoping for some mathematical miracle.

Two other area districts should have a sole leader after Friday night’s action as Diboll and Carthage, both 3-0 in District 18-3A, play each other while Evadale and West Hardin lock horns for the District 23-A lead.

On the collegiate football scene the No. 1-ranked Texas Longhorns will be playing in their fourth big game in as many weeks as they travel to Lubbock to take on No. 7  Texas Tech in a battle of 8-0 teams. 

The Longhorns had to scramble to beat feisty No. 7 Oklahoma State 28-24 Saturday afternoon in Austin before a record crowd of 98,515.  It was the Cowboys’ first 7-0 start since they last went undefeated in 1945.

Texas Tech had much less trouble remaining undefeated for the season by thrashing No. 19 Kansas 63-21 in Lawrence, Kan. The Red Raiders were led by quarterback Graham Harrell, the nation’s leader in passing, who fired five touchdown passes and scored another on a 1-yard run.

Harrell will definitely pose a problem for the Texas secondary and former West Orange-Stark Mustangs Kenneth (Deon) Beasley and redshirt freshman Earl Thomas. Both players have been doing a great job so far for the top-ranked Longhorns.

However a team that probably won’t see any postseason action is the McNeese State Cowboys, our alma mater, who disappointed the Homecoming crowd at Cowboy Stadium Saturday night in Lake Charles by dropping a 38-35 verdict to the Nicholls State Colonels, who have been a thorn in the Cowboys’ saddle for many years.
The loss was the second for the Pokes in Southland Conference play and third for the season as the McNeese defense appears much more porous than in previous seasons when they won the SLC title and earned a berth in the small college playoffs.

The Lone Star State’s two National Football League franchises both won Sunday to keep their dim playoff hopes alive. The Dallas Cowboys snapped a two-game losing streak by edging past Tampa Bay 13-9 and improving their record to 5-3.

Dallas was the choice by most preseason prognosticators to duplicate last season’s 13-3 record and get to the Super Bowl.

However, some shoddy play and injuries to key players resulted in a dramatic slowdown in the victory column after opening the season with three straight wins. The Pokes then lost three of their next five games and must play the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants Sunday up there.

And after starting the season with four straight losses, the Houston Texans set a franchise record by winning their third straight game, thrashing winless Cincinnati 35-6 at Reliant Stadium. The Texans are obviously better than their 3-4 record indicates.

So by this time next week, the picture should be much clearer on the high school, college and pro football scenes.

KWICKIES … The favored Tampa Bay Rays had better get on the ball or the 2008 World Series could be over after Game 5. The Phillies are beginning to play the type of baseball that got them into the playoffs during the month of September. We still like Philadelphia in six games!!!

This Korner’s favorite jockey Garrett Gomez had a record four wins in last weekend’s Breeder’s Cup run at Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, Cal. He earned his third Bill Shoemaker Award, given annually to the event’s outstanding rider, in four years. Gomez won on Midshipman (Juvenile) Albertus Maximus (Dirt Mile), Midnight Lute (Sprint) and Ventura (Filly & Mare Sprint).

The Texas Longhorns maintained their hold on the No. 1 position in this week’s BCS standings. The ‘Horns are followed by 2. Alabama 3. Penn State 4. Oklahoma 5. Southern California 6. Georgia 7. Texas Tech 8. Florida 9. Oklahoma State 10. Utah.

    JUST BETWEEN US…It’s hard to tell whether it’s just our imagination or if the NFL referees are calling more personal fouls on players this season that appear to be almost like the victims are trying to win some Academy Awards for acting. The game officials certainly seem to be biting on what they supposedly see, although many of the late hits are “ticky-tack,” accidental or nonexistent.